Posted on: 13/04/2017
With most SMEs on a tight budget, there’s a temptation to cut funds you have allocated for marketing. However, while you’re right in assuming that traditional advertising methods are costly and hard to measure, there are actually a number of completely free or cost-effective marketing tools at your fingertips.
Digitalisation means there’s no longer the need for huge marketing budgets, but you are required to invest some time and effort to make sure these marketing activities generate real results. Here are my top ten tips on how to effectively market your business.
1. What’s the story?
Getting your business story right from the outset may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many business professionals have trouble concisely explaining what it is they actually do.
Research shows the average attention span of an adult is about six to eight seconds so that’s all of the time you have to catch someone’s attention. Practice summing your business up in less than ten seconds and if this successfully gets people’s attention, assume you then have around a minute to really sell your product and service. Developing a killer pitch also helps you to pull out the key selling points, which will go a long way in defining the messaging you use in sales material, website content and on social media.
2. Ready to mingle
In this digital age, it’s easy to forget about some of the more traditional marketing methods available to your business. Good old fashioned networking is integral to growing your business and developing key relationships with potential customers and your peers. You may find there are so many events in your area that it’s impossible to attend all of them, so which should you prioritise? One of the most common mistakes I see is people attending events within their own industry. Really, if you want to grow your business then mixing with your peers probably isn’t the most effective use of your time. Instead, look at events in the sector that you’re trying to win business within. For example, if you’re a recruiter in the legal sector, look at attending more legal seminars than recruitment shows.
3. Like, post, share
Utilising social media is a no-brainer for small businesses – it’s free, easy and each platform has excellent analytics tools to measure the effectiveness of your activity. You can use social media to turn one-off customers into loyal ones providing you address them correctly and create constant engagement. The most important factor is identifying the social media platforms that are most popular for your target customers – if they’re not hanging out on Twitter, don’t waste your time trying to be witty in 140 characters. Spend some time looking at popular hashtags on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and use LinkedIn to join relevant groups where you can join conversations and subtly push your message.
4. Trust your voice
A high number of SME business leaders spend large amounts of time reading the books and blogs of prominent figures they aspire to in business as a way of gaining inspiration and picking up tips. While I always recommend business leaders dedicate time to personal development (I can recommend several books that have helped me along the way), it’s important they don’t forget the importance of their own voice. You need to trust that your experiences so far in business will make for interesting reading, not only to your peers, but for your customers too. A blog on your website, or regular Pulse articles on LinkedIn, are a fantastic free way of engaging existing clients as well as helping to attract new ones. All you have to do is be honest and make sure you update it regularly to keep your readers engaged. Also, remember to leave comments on other blogs and invite guest bloggers onto your website, which is an effective way of growing your blog followers.
5. Hold the front page
Remember to report your company news on a regular basis. You’d be surprised what other people consider newsworthy, so an internal promotion or hiring a new member of staff is certainly something you should be talking about in the press, on your website and via social media. Speaking of the press, it’s worth noting that business reporters, both on a local and national level, are always on the lookout for positive news stories, especially with regards to business growth so make sure you send them press releases. You may also want to put together a newsletter detailing all of your latest company news that you can mail out to current and prospective customers.
6. Keep it fresh
It’s easy once you have a website to leave it alone to do its job, but users are savvier than ever and so is Google. Make sure the content on each of your pages is as up to date as possible. Out of date content will stand out – maybe you’ve made a reference to something that was in the news at the time, or perhaps some updated legislation means your content needs revisiting. You’ve also got the added factor that Google will penalise you for irrelevant content. On the flipside, you will be rewarded for up-to-date content, so your site will be positioned higher in the Google rankings. It also goes without saying to ensure your website is free from spelling and grammatical errors. If you’ve not got a good eye for grammar, ask someone who does to give it a once over.
7. Stay mobile
While we’re on the subject of your website, you need to remember that more users than ever are browsing the web on mobile devices. There are predictions that mobile will completely overtake desktop by this time next year, so you need to make sure your website is mobile and tablet optimised or potentially risk losing out on business.
8. Email marketing
Email is still one of the most effective ways to communicate with thousands of customers at the touch of a button. If you have the data, use it. Software such as MailChimp is inexpensive and extremely easy to use, so what are you waiting for? Send out a company newsletter or share your latest blogs. Capture more email addresses for your database by adding opportunities on your website for users to sign up for more information. Email marketing also lets you test different messaging through A/B testing so you can ensure you’re always speaking to your contacts in the most effective way.
9. And the winner is…
Entering your business to win an industry award is extremely easy. True, you often have to pay an entry fee but if you’re successful you can really capitalise on the opportunities it can bring. If you’re shortlisted, you can share the news on your website and via social media, the same can be said if you go on to win only you may have an opportunity to feature in your local business or trade press. Winning an award also gives you another accolade to put on your website, email signature or even your business card. It also goes without saying that an award-winning business is a lot more appealing for customers, both existing and potential.
10. Always analyse
One of the most important marketing tools available to you is Google Analytics. It’s completely free and provides a wealth of important information for you to be able to measure the effectiveness of your website content along with any social media campaigns. Although the dashboard can appear overwhelming, you should endeavour to set aside some time to get to grips with the basics. A good place to start is looking at the average time users spend on your website, average bounce rate and the pages that are getting the most traction right now, as well as those that are not performing as well as you might want. Once you’ve got your head around the basics, you can go on to look at user behaviour in greater detail and the steps you need to take to convert visitors to sales leads.
If you want to learn more about these tips and how to implement them within your business, please contact Nathan Smith at Smith & Smith.Go back to Top Ten Tips